Renegade Nun, The Morning Star of Wittenberg

Important figures of history sometimes get pushed to the periphery as current figures take center stage. One such figure is Katharina von Bora, a renegade nun whose birth took place more than five hundred years ago this week. If the name is familiar at all, it may be because she was the wife of Martin Luther, who in 1517 posted on the door of his church 95 Theses (disputations), an act of defiance that set in motion the Protestant Reformation.

It’s possible others find both Katharina von Bora and Martin Luther to be unfamiliar names. Unfortunately, the Protestant Reformation no longer receives a great deal of attention in most history classes. (And Luther’s name often evokes a well-known 20th century figure, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., causing a measure of confusion.)

http://tiny.cc/e774sx

http://tiny.cc/e774sx

I love the picture (above) of von Bora. This portrait was painted by a close friend of their family, a German Renaissance painter who also painted a portrait of Martin Luther. In this picture, I see a resemblance to The Good Wife‘s Julianna Margulies. To me, the portrait depicts a beautiful woman, a no-nonsense presence who possesses quiet, bridled strength of character and soul. Continue Reading →

Practicing Peace In An Age Of War

Reminiscing with my mother today (via phone), I was reminded of the long-ago world she and my dad shared. As their world had convulsed from war to a tenuous peace, they began their life together 69 years ago this week.

I had asked her a couple questions about my dad who, when I was a young child, attended Bible school. This would have been after World War II, after he’d married my mom and after their first two or three children had arrived.

NAS Army

about 1943

To put Dad’s hunger for education into perspective, it’s important (I think) to mention he didn’t graduate from high school. (He attended one year before quitting.) Instead of further schooling, he chose to take a job driving a truck and delivering furniture.

But following the war, he had renewed motivation to expand his understanding of the world. Having traveled to Europe (while in the Army), having seen and experienced horrible things, he was – on his return – an eager student whose further study was the natural result of witnessing the tumult faraway and having a curious mind that hoped to sort out some of what he’d seen. Continue Reading →

Job: Life Is Hard . . . And Then You Die

Returning to Job today, chapter 14 brings us one-third way through the book. (To view earlier posts, they begin here and continue on successive Sundays.) With this chapter, Job continues his response … but he’s no longer addressing his friends. He has, in fact, realized they already have their minds made up (about his perceived sin), so instead, Job directly addresses God as his friends listen in to the conversation.

FROM:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

Because Job has ceased defending himself to his friends and is speaking specifically to God (i.e. prayer), the intensely personal nature of this chapter is evident. Not a thing that Job recites is unknown to God, yet Job still schools the Almighty on the realities of humanity. Even as he speaks to God, he’s reminding himself that life is hard … and then you die.
Continue Reading →

The Lion’s Roar, A Tribute to The Greatest Briton

It is perhaps an appropriate occasion (as a follow-up to yesterday’s post) to mention the fifty-year anniversary today of the death of Winston Churchill. Voted in 2002 (thirty-seven years after his death) the Greatest Briton, Churchill topped a list that included the names of William Wilberforce, J. R. R. Tolkien, Jane Austen, William Blake, William Shakespeare and a host of British monarchs.

churchill 1

http://tiny.cc/o4ozsx

(The list didn’t include C. S. Lewis, I’m sorry to say, though technically his birth in Ireland might have disqualified him? Not sure.)

Born in 1874, Churchill became a bigger-than-life presence and a pivotal figure during a critical time on the world stage. He may have endured (during his lifetime) more critics than admirers and history seems to reflect he suffered many defeats and discouragements. But his legacy cannot be ignored.

Given how Hitler’s invasion forces swept through Europe like lightning in mid-1940, a number of Brits believed a negotiated peace with Germany was the preferred path. (We can reason with Hitler … set ourselves in important positions and do business with his expanding war machine. We’ll make millions!)

As Prime Minister, Churchill chose the harder road, a path he knew would lead to outright war (Churchill’s predecessor had already declared war in September of 1939) – and less certain – his choice might eventually lead to a hoped-for victory.

Considering Churchill’s stubborn refusal to surrender to Hitler, the Luftwaffe engaged an eight-month bombing campaign of strategic sites and facilities (during which London alone suffered fifty-seven consecutive nighttime raids) which was surely enough for some Brits to think peace at any cost was preferable. Continue Reading →

Foyle(d) Again, Love Affair for Another Time and Place

Something strange has happened to me over the last couple months. It was totally unexpected and I was blindsided … I fell in love again! (Please don’t tell my Beloved, though I think he’s beginning to suspect!) I’m having trouble understanding myself of course, because this is a love affair that completely goes against all my preferences. The man is short and balding! Anyone who knows me will recognize immediately I’ve gone off the rails.

foyles_avatarIt began innocently enough when my brother-in-law recommended a British television series he thought I’d enjoy. That was more than a year ago. I added the series to my Netflix queue but that’s where it ended. Then recently, my brother also recommended the series … and instead of just letting the series continue to gather dust in my queue, I sat down one night and watched the first episode … and the second … and the third!

Immediately, I was in love! (I blame my brother-in-law and my brother.)

Continue Reading →

March For Life

An event that took place in our nation’s capitol today, the annual March for Life, attracts a huge crowd of marchers … but often fails to garner more than cursory attention from the nightly news. (Digital accounts usually offer some attention.) In the March for Life, people from around the country gather to mark the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Sanctity-of-Human-Life-MonthAbortion is an issue that tends to make people squirm … as it should. Some people consider abortion a “necessary evil” we must tolerate because of the number of unplanned pregnancies that occur; opponents of abortion maintain that unplanned pregnancies can be (and should be) addressed apart from destroying the precious, unique lives of unborn babies. Supporters of abortion uphold the procedure as an important choice – a woman’s sacred right to choose; opponents argue at least two individuals are involved in every abortion “choice” and the humanity of unborn babies is casually denied and ignored. Continue Reading →

Best Interests of the Children

Nearly thirty years ago, we began educating our children in the home. This was an era when home-education was mostly embraced by people at the margin and those tended to be unconventional types. Our motivation related primarily to our eldest daughter who was about to begin junior high. We had reservations about the social aspects of junior high (and the prevailingly negative, precocious atmosphere we’d observed among her peers).

3RsOnce we’d made the decision to keep our oldest child home, the decision snowballed from there. When all was said and done, we launched our home school experience with all four children receiving their education at home. (I’ve posted here with more specifics about those days.)

Because that time was very different from today, we initially tried to keep a low profile. Although home education was legal in our state, many people (among them most professional educators) held a dim view of the nascent home-school movement, overall. When I informed the local principal (our neighborhood school was two blocks from our house), he told me sternly (rudely?):  You’d better do a good job because if you mess up, I’ll have to pick up the pieces! Continue Reading →

State of Affairs

If you have yet to prepare your popcorn and drinks for the big shindig tonight, you’re burning daylight! Of course, I’m not talking about the annual State of the Union message … tonight is the premiere of the sixth – and final – season for Justified! (Now I can understand why some people might feel the SOTU would be more important but if I must be perfectly honest, I am not one of them.)

ObamaInviteI actually feel a little guilty because I’m not tuning in. I mean, take a look at that personal invitation (above). He really wants me to take part, doncha’ know? Why else would he issue this fine invitation to more than 300 million of his closest friends? Continue Reading →

Numbering One’s Days

Let’s take an excursion into Imagination Land today! No, we won’t be delivered on board a red Grumman sea-plane, we won’t be greeted by either Ricardo Montalbán or Hervé Villechaize, and this will not be our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the fantasy of our choosing. (I’m much too practical for such a distraction as that.)

dePlaneWhat we will do for a few moments is engage the imagination … yeah, you know that essential part of your brain? The organ you once used to envision yourself as a swashbuckling pirate or a ravishing princess held captive in a tower guarded by sword-wielding savages. Yeah, that brain.

And if it’s been so long ago you’ve forgotten where you put it (your imagination, not your brain), close your eyes a moment and see if you can imagine the Dallas Cowboys actually making it to the Super Bowl – plus, since we’re imagining, you’ve managed to snag tickets in one of the prestigious executive boxes. (I told you to use your imagination, didn’t I?!) Continue Reading →

Pain, Suffering and Evil, Oh My!

An interview I read this week (conducted by World magazine’s Warren Cole Smith with writer/professor Bart D. Ehrman) seemed an apt reminder of Job’s struggle chronicled in The Book of Job. With his 2014 book How Jesus Became God, the once-evangelical Ehrman (now an outspoken atheist or agnostic, depending upon which resource is consulted) explains his personal rejection of faith in a way Job might well understand.

FROM:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

On page four of the interview, Erhman notes:  “What ended up leading me away from the faith was unrelated to my scholarship. It was dealing with the problem of suffering in the world and why there could be so much pain and misery if God is active in the world.

A couple interview questions later, Ehrman continues his explanation, expressing contempt for a deity who permits the deaths of starving children and tsunamis that obliterate thousands of human beings in one swoop. His perspective of evil in the world has caused him to reject the overall concept of God. The existence of pain, suffering and evil in our world are ample proofs (for Ehrman) that God does not exist. Continue Reading →

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